What if I told you that most of what we knew about Pliny clones was wrong? Well, about six months ago, I received an email from a fan of the blog who happened to stumble across some info about the Pliny recipe that looked pretty different than what we’ve heard from Vinny in the past. I’m intentionally leaving out some details, out of respect for Russian River, but I have every reason to believe the info to be accurate. The same recipe info was later posted to a popular homebrew forum, although it surprisingly didn’t garner much attention. With that said, please don’t ask me for specifics, as I’m already pushing my moral boundaries here. I really debated whether or not I was going to post this recipe at all. After some deliberation, and considering just a cursory search will turn up the same details now, I decided that I’m not exactly divulging any secrets. So here’s my experience brewing this newer (more accurate) Pliny recipe.
So what were the big surprises? Well, actually quite a few.
– Cascade! This was the biggest surprise
– There’s no Carapils in the malt bill
– The mash temp is quite a bit higher than expected (154)
– The 45 minute addition is Amarillo Extract
– There’s less CTZ than I thought
– Half the bittering hops I had
I like many others, I had adopted my Pliny recipe from the popular ones Vinny has provided over the years. So we might as well take a look at how close my most recent Pliny recipe was from the real thing.
87% 2-row 93.5% 2-row
3.8% Carapils 1.7% English C60
4.2% C40 4.8% Dextrose
Mash @ 150F Mash @ 154F
9.5AAU Extract 4.7AAU Amarillo Extract
1oz Simcoe 1oz Simcoe
1oz Centennial .75oz ea Cascade, Centennial, Amarillo, Simcoe
Dry Hops: Dry Hops:
41% CTZ 41.5% Simcoe
29% Simcoe 33% Cascade
24% Centennial 18% CTZ
6% Amarillo 7.5% Amarillo
Quite a few differences, huh? RR is using just a splash of Crystal 60, and no other specialty malts. We did have the amount of dextrose roughly correct though. They’re also mashing quite a bit warmer, which I assume makes up the difference for the extra crystal and carapils. The hopping looks quite a bit different; there’s less than half the amount of bittering hops! While they obviously get better hop utilization at their scale, it’s certainly not 100% more. The 45min addition is Amarillo specific, which also raised an eyebrow. The flameout addition is a big surprise. First, they’re using Cascade, which I’ve seen no mention of before. Secondly, the varieties are pretty evenly split. The kettle hops are not as Simcoe-heavy as I assumed. As for the dry hops, we’re in the ballpark, but not exact. The Centennial is replaced with Cascade, and there’s less CTZ than I used.
So how did I end up adapting this into a recipe to brew. First, the amount of hops at 90min is small enough that I’m not going to bother with hop extract. Gone is the idea we need like 3.5oz CTZ for bittering. I’m using a mere 1oz of Apollo to achieve the 15AAU required. Also, considering the Amarillo Extract addition is so small (.5oz of pellet equivalent) and with 45min left in the boil, I’m using pellets. I don’t even know if Amarillo-Specific extracts are available to home brewers, but I see absolutely no need to bother. Also, I brewed this with WLP090 because I really don’t find much of a flavor difference between it and 001. I know WLP090 really well at this point, so I try to use it whenever possible.
The timing of this recipe was actually perfect. The wife and I bought a house earlier this year, and I needed to brew a big IPA for the housewarming party. What better than a keg of Pliny! As for the brew day, I’m still working out the kinks of brewing at the new house. I’ve setup my brew stand at the end of the garage, and while it works, the setup isn’t ideal. It’s funny how little of a difference it takes to throw you off your game. Especially since I’ve had zero changes in equipment for roughly two years. Nonetheless, everything went smooth enough. I mashed for 60 minutes, boiled for 90, allowed the wort to whirlpool for 15, and finally chilled the batch down to 64F. From there I hit the wort with a good 90 seconds of O2, pitched the yeast, and buttoned-up the fermenter fridge at 17.2C.
I ramped the temperature up as fermentation progressed until it hit 20C near the end. After 4 days I added the first dry hop addition directly to the primary. I sat on those hops for 3 days before racking to a clean, sanitized, keg to stand in as a secondary. The second dry hops were added, and the keg was kept at 20C for another 7 days before crashing the (secondary) keg, and racking to a clean serving keg. After a week of carbing this up, we were in business.
Dry Hopped: 04-22-15
4oz English C60
Mash at 154*
1oz Apollo @ 90 (The recipe is actually 8.2ml Generic Hop Extract, or 15AAU)
.33oz CTZ @ 90
.5oz Amarillo @ 45 (The recipe is actually 2.5ml Amarillo Extract, or 4.7AAU)
1oz Simcoe @ 30
.75oz ea: Cascade, Centennial, Amarillo, Simcoe @ 0
Whirlpool for 15min
WLP090 – Super San Diego Yeast
Dry Hop 1:
Dry Hop 2:
So how did things turn out? Spot on. How different is this beer than my prior clone attempts? Not much. That was actually the biggest thing I learned from this. While the recipes looked quite a bit different, what we ended up with in the glass was pretty similar. Less bittering hops led to a slightly ‘cleaner’ tasting hop profile, and the Cascade in the dry hop somehow gives the beer a slightly more resiny aroma. I’m not really sure how, but it does. The color, mouthfeel, and even the citrus profile are exactly how I remember Pliny.
So ya, that’s about it. If anyone decides to brew this, I’d love to hear your feedback. This has to be one of the more popular home-brew IPA clones out there. I’m curious how this compares to others’ attempts at cloning Pliny; especially those Pliny-accificandos. Cheers!